According to a team release by the Denver Nuggets organization, the Nuggets and head coach Michael Malone have agreed to a contract extension.

Since taking over the head coaching position prior to the 2015-16 season, the Nuggets have made steady progress under the watchful eye of Malone. Taking over a 30 win team in 2014-15, the Nuggets had 33 wins in Malone’s first season, 40 wins in 2016-17, 46 wins in 2017-18, and 54 wins in 2018-19. After starting 2019-20 with the best record through 29 games in franchise history (21-8) the Nuggets decided to retain a key part of their franchise continuity.

From the team’s press release:

“This season and team has been about continuity, with Coach Malone being the first piece of that,” stated Josh Kroenke. “We are thrilled to continue to have him lead this promising young roster and are excited about what the future holds. Coach Malone has been pivotal in this organization’s success and will continue to be so.”

Malone has also been a key factor in the development of several of Denver’s players. Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, and Will Barton have all taken massive steps as players during Malone’s tenure, and even though the Nuggets are considered a team with limited defensive talent, the team is second in defensive rating in the 2019-20 season.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the extension runs through the 2022-23 season.

Malone’s previous contract ran through the 2020-21 season, so this is a two-year extension for Denver’s coach, a strong vote of confidence by the Nuggets organization that will offer Malone some peace of mind throughout an intense playoff run laden with new expectations.

This is a win for the Nuggets, who may have been faced with a tough choice at the end of the year if reality fell short of expectation. Malone will rest easy knowing that he can help the roster continue to develop for the long term rather than focus solely on what helps the team win right now.

Whatever Nuggets fans may think of Malone, he is central to their identity of resilience, teamwork, and passion for basketball. He is as much a factor for this team and organization as Jokic, Murray, or any player. Without Malone, the Nuggets are a completely different team, and probably a team with a worse record.

Merry Christmas coach!